Fast growing India has seen an exponential rise in pollution along the rapid economic transformation in the past two decades. Burning coal for energy and burning down paddy fields to plant new crops is the leading cause of pollution rise in Nation’s capital.

“While rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks to all, it is more worrisome for children as their vital organs are not mature enough to deal with it. Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) determines how much air the lungs can hold, how quickly one can move air in and out of his/her lungs, and how well the lungs take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the body. The tests can detect lung diseases and measure the severity. Poor results on PFT mean compromised lung function and high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases. “ said Dr Dr Rakesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Respiratory Medicine, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi

As per a survey done by WHO, a worrying 21 per cent of the children surveyed in Delhi were categorised as ‘poor’ followed by 14 per cent in Bengaluru, 13 per cent in Mumbai and 9 per cent in Kolkata.

It revealed that children in the National Capital are worst affected with 21 per cent having ‘poor’ lung capacity while another 19 per cent faring as simply ‘bad’. The worst affected are children who commute in unpacked vehicles as they are more exposed to dust particles in the air. In Delhi alone, about 92 per cent children using UPT (unpacked transport) fared ‘poor’ against eight per cent who used PT (packed transport).

“The rise in PM 2.5 has been causing problems for the people with age extremities. With kids under the age of 5 years suffer breathing problems as their immune system is damaged. While elderly are complaining about congestion, sinusitis, asthma, difficulty in breathing. As PM2.5 is very fine, it can settle in the developing lungs of kids and worsen asthma and other respiratory problems.” Added Dr Chawla

Air pollution has also emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide. Of the total premature deaths globally, more than one – fourth are from India.

According to a recent report by WHO, Delhi leads the list of world’s most polluted cities. Out of the top 20 most polluted cities, 13 cities are from India. Delhi’s pollution contributed to 4.3 million deaths annually which are related to pneumonia, stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Coal based pollution in the environment will always be significant in India as it is the leading energy generation source. The microscopic particles are so light they float on air and lodge deep in the lungs, and have been linked to higher rates of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.

This calls for an urgent need to raise people’s awareness and find ways to address the issue effectively.

About the Author

Dr Dr Rakesh Chawla
Senior Consultant
Respiratory Medicine
Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi